Making Sense of Practices: Professional Development, Inquiry, and Science and Engineering Practices
Date of Award
Doctor of Education in Secondary Education
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
This case study examines how secondary chemistry teachers in professional development experiences made sense of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs) outlined in the Framework and used in the Next Generation Science Standards and the Georgia Standards of Excellence in Science. The study consisted of six participants, three males and three females, who taught high school chemistry. The criteria binding the cases were (1) being a practicing chemistry teacher and (2) participating in professional development about the Scientific and Engineering Practices. The research is framed through a Constructivism lens using Sensemaking theory. Data sources included original and revised lesson plans, PLC meeting transcripts, semi-structured participant interviews, Views About Scientific Inquiry instrument scores, and a survey about educational and teaching experience. The interpretations of the study were organized into the following four themes. (1) Teachers in SEP specific PD were able to make sense of the SEPs and plan for inquiry activities with students that incorporate SEPs. (2) A PLC alone, especially a newly formed PLC, may not be enough PD to implement SEPs when other goals for the group exist or are mandated. (3) Sensemaking is evident in lesson plans. (4) Understanding aspects of inquiry may not be an indication of inquiry teaching practices. Participants indicated participating in inquiry and experiential PD that allows for collaboration and time for planning and reflection increases their sensemaking of the SEPs. Implications for further research and implications for professional development design are provided.